In the first episode of the fifth season of The Next Generation, Picard organizes a trap for the Romulans while Worf deals with the House of Duras. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For talk of consent
WELL, THAT’S HOW. Holy shit. What a premiere!
While I think the concept behind this episode is brilliant, the execution of it makes me scratch my head. If you ignore the one glaring plothole in the middle of the tachyon net, then it’s a tense game of chess that unfolds here. Which I loved! Without this plot, you wouldn’t have that incredible scene between Sela and Picard where both characters never quite come out and say exactly what they mean. It’s all innuendo because they have to be careful about what they say in this context.
But look. Space is not a flat plane. It’s three-dimensions. Travel is not subject to gravitational concerns like we are on a planet. A space blockade doesn’t really work here because… well, can’t you just go around it? Or under it? Or warp past it and then loop back on it? When Sela’s first officer pointed out that “hole” in the net, all I could think was, “Dude, just go under the next. No one is down there.”
This is perhaps the silliest nitpick I’ve ever come up with. I admit that. But… just go around it! Seriously!
Like the first part, “Redemption, Part II” focuses on the dichotomy of experience for Picard and Worf. Whereas the first half mostly focused on Worf, we see much more of Picard’s struggle here. He first has to convince Starfleet to get involved, at the very least in a blockade before anything more serious. Then, he’s got an entire fleet to manage and organize, so he splits off his own crew to man a number of important positions about the fleet. And not without some resistance, either!
More on that in a second. While the quiet back-and-forth between the fleet and the Romulans takes up a large part of this episode, I actually think the subplot with Picard and Sela is the most important thing here. It touches on something we saw at the beginning of the last season: Picard’s culpability. Despite that everyone assured him that what he did under control of the Borg was not his fault, Picard felt an extreme sense of guilt. Here, Picard is faced with the possibility that something he does in the future set into motion the events that brought about the Romulan force now. How do you deal with that? Can you feel guilt over something you haven’t even done yet?
It took me a couple passes to even understand the timeline here, but this episode confirms that Tasha survived the events at the end of “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” only to be given as a gift to a Romulan as part of some sort of diplomacy. (The consent issues here are completely washed over, unfortunately.) Thus, Sela was born, explaining how she looks practically the same age as Tasha. But even worse, it’s Sela’s rejection of her human side, spawned by Tasha’s desire to come home, that possibly created this entire situation. WHICH… GOOD LORD. That’s so messed up. SO messed up.
I really don’t think this is the last time we’ll see Sela either. Oh god, I want to know SO MUCH MORE.
I didn’t catch that captain’s name, but lord, WHAT A BIGOT. Apparently, there are still people in this vision of the future who view other people and species with stereotypes in mind. Like, if Starfleet was truly concerned about having an android in the fleet, I don’t think they would have let Data get as far as he has in twenty-six years. Twenty-six years! He’s not a new addition, y’all, and yet that captain treats him like he’s new, inexperienced, and untrustworthy. I’m glad he got proved wrong. I’m also pleased to see Data improvise as he did because it suggests he’s not just programming, you know? There’s something more to him. He sounded ANGRY, y’all!!! ANGRY DATA. I hope we see some more of that this season.
It was definitely strange to see Worf wearing traditional Klingon armor and clothing. I’m so used to him in his Starfleet uniform! Anyway, I think that the only real criticism I have here that isn’t nitpicking is that Worf’s role feels diminished, despite that there are quite a few scenes that take place on Klingon. He’s mostly reacting here, which is a contrast to his proactive stance in the last episode. He reacts to one of the Duras supporters in the bar; he reacts to his brother’s teasing; and then he reacts to the Duras sisters after they kidnap him. He’s not actually doing much independent of that.
Which isn’t the worst thing, either. I understood why the Duras sisters thought that seduction would work on Worf, but they were horribly misguided. He’s not that interested in romance, first of all. But let’s assume they didn’t know that! Which is believable. Over and over again, Worf has shown to these people that he cares about honor, loyalty, and Klingon culture/law. The sisters’ plan required Worf to violate those very things! Of course, it’s all made worse because he knows that siding with the Duras’ means that he’ll be siding with the Romulans, too.
Given the open-ended nature of “Redemption, Part II,” I’m guessing we’ll see all of these characters again at some point. (Hopefully not Toral, though, because god, is that character annoying.) The House of Duras may have stopped the civil war, and Gowron may be in power, but this is not over by any means. It’s just a break, as far as I’m concerned. PLUS, I WANT TO SEE SELA AGAIN.
The video for “Redemption, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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